Official for Arizona's largest county charged in adoption fraud scheme

The Hill 2 months ago

The county assessor for Arizona’s largest county was indicted this week on charges of participating in an adoption fraud scheme, according to an indictment from Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R).

Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen (R) is accused of running an adoption law practice that brought women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. to give birth and then placed the babies for adoption with U.S. parents, according to the indictment.

Petersen is also accused of falsely claiming the Marshall Islands women were Arizona residents to obtain services from the state’s Medicaid system, according to the newspaper.

As well, the county assessor is suspected of having violated a compact that prevents Marshall Islands citizens from coming to the U.S. for the sole purpose of adoption unless they have a special visa.

Petersen has been indicted on 32 counts, including conspiracy, theft, forgery and 29 counts of fraudulent schemes. The investigation also involved the state Department of Public Safety and the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (R) charged Petersen with 11 felonies, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, including human smuggling, sale of a child and communications fraud, with Reyes’ office alleging the assessor paid more than 40 pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to give up their children for adoption.

“While Mr. Petersen is entitled to a presumption of innocence, our investigation uncovered evidence that he has committed horrible crimes,” Reyes said in a prepared statement. “Petersen’s illegal adoption scheme exploited highly vulnerable groups in two countries — the birth mothers and families in the Marshall Islands and the adoptive parents here in Utah.”

The Hill has reached out to Petersen’s office for comment.


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ABC News › Lifestyle › 2 months ago
Court records show the assessor of Arizona's most populous county has been accused of human smuggling in an adoption fraud scheme that brought pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. to give up their children for adoption
Fox News › 1 month ago
An Arizona elected official was suspended Monday after being charged in a multi-million adoption scheme that allegedly brought pregnant women to the U.S. to give birth and then paid them to put the babies up for adoption.
CBS News › 2 months ago
An elected official in Arizona is in jail and charged with more than 60 felonies for allegedly running a multi-state adoption scheme. Prosecutors says Paul Petersen preyed on pregnant women from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific and lured them to the...
The New York Times › 2 months ago
The assessor of Arizona's largest county has been indicted in an adoption fraud scheme.
The Boston Globe › 2 months ago
The assessor of Arizona’s most populous county has been accused of human smuggling in an adoption fraud scheme that brought dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. to give up their children for adoption, court records show.
CNN › 2 months ago
An Arizona county assessor is accused of human smuggling as part of a scheme that involved more than 40 pregnant women from the Marshall Islands brought to the United States to give up their babies for adoption, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Chicago Tribune › 2 months ago
Paul Petersen, the Republican assessor of Arizona's most populous county, was charged in Utah, Arizona and Arkansas with counts including human smuggling, sale of a child, fraud, forgery and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
USA Today › 2 months ago
An Arizona elected official has been accused of human smuggling in an adoption fraud scheme that brought dozens of pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. to give up their children for adoption. (Oct. 9)
Fox News › 1 month ago
A defiant Arizona elected official charged with running a human smuggling scheme involving pregnant women from the Marshall Islands has pleaded not guilty and plans to go to court to challenge his work suspension.
The New York Times › 0 month ago
A leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said he is "disgusted" by an Arizona elected official accused of running a multi-state adoption scheme, marking the first time a church official has commented on the case.
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